Sometimes you have to face an unpleasant truth: Your carpet smells and it's time to do something about it. As tempting as it might be to reach for a scented spray "freshener," resist this temptation. You'll only mask the smells. And who wants carpet that smells like vanilla or strawberries? There's no better way to draw odors from your carpet and make it smell fresh than to marshal the odor-absorbing qualities of baking soda.
Step 1 Clear the Decks
Move furniture out of the room whose carpet you wish to deodorize. This tactic trumps simply working around furniture or moving it off to one side of the room since strong, stubborn odors such as smoke can muscle their way into carpet fibers even if furniture and other objects cover the carpet.
Step 2 Fill Your Bottle
Fill a shaker bottle – similar to one that holds Parmesan cheese or powdered sugar – with baking soda. Depending on the size of the room and how much baking soda you use, you might have to repeat this step, so be sure to have several boxes of baking soda on hand.
Step 3 Spread the Wealth
Start at the far end of the room – at a point farthest from the door – and sprinkle a thick layer of baking soda on the carpet. Baking soda will not damage your carpet in any way, so don't be afraid to be heavy-handed with it. Stop periodically so that you can push the baking soda deep into the carpet fibers. You can use assorted tools for this task, including a wide-toothed comb, a soft brush or a plastic spatula. Alternatively, cover your hand with a plastic bag and slowly rub the baking soda into the carpet.
Step 4 Give It Time
Allow the baking soda to absorb the smells – at least overnight and up to 24 hours. Then vacuum, moving over the carpet first in one direction and then in a perpendicular direction to ensure that you pick up as much baking soda as possible.
Step 5 Steam if Necessary
Follow this baking soda treatment on particularly foul smells – such as pet urine, vomit or spilled milk – by steam cleaning your carpet, if you still aren't satisfied. Finally, fill a few small bowls with white vinegar and set them on the carpet overnight. Although many people dislike the pungent smell of white vinegar, it attacks odors brilliantly and it does not linger.